Get New Life Out of Old Outlet Covers

Let’s consider for a minute how expensive it can be to replace all of the outlet covers in your entire house.

A lot, right? I’m making updates to the outlet covers in the bedrooms of our house as part of a refreshening effort. In my home, all of the outlet covers (and switch covers, and trim too) had been painted over with a paint sprayer. And not just once, but numerous times over numerous decades so that they were basically one with the painted surface of the wall. Removing them was one thing (it had to be done with an utility knife to avoid doing wall damage), but once I got started, I found that the plates themselves were actually really quality product. Stainless steel, and a heavier steel than I was used to encountering at that.

Instead of ditching them all and spending approximately $60 (for modest covers, not ornate ones with detail), I decided to clean them up and refinish them myself. They turned out so great, I hope it’s an effort worth your time too.

Update switch plate covers with a little spray paint for a fresh look!

If you’re looking to go down a different path, you can also cover the outlet plates with tape, or decoupage over them creatively.


Step 1

 Open GalleryRemove all electrical covers. Use a utility knife if you have layers of paint to contend with.Remove all wall plates. If the seams are coated by layers and layers of paint (like mine), use a utility knife to score the existing paint for easy removal.

Step 2

 Open GalleryUsing Citristrip to remove layers of paint on wall outlet covers.Remove that existing paint. For me, it was as easy as coating the plates with a paint remover and letting them sit for about 20 minutes.

Step 3

 Open GalleryAllow the paint to bubble up and loosen.Allow the paint to begin to bubble up. If you are removing multiple coats, it may take longer, and you may need to clean and reapply the stripping agent to attack the lower coats.

Step 4

 Open GalleryRemove paint from old outlet covers using paint remover and a plastic razor blade.Scrape clean the loosened paint. A plastic razor blade is best for this, as it can cut into the loose paint without scratching the underlying metal cover. Run it under some water to help remove any remnants, and finally, if any remains after it dries, use a fine grade sandpaper to remove any residual paint.

Step 5

 Open GalleryI used spray paint to give a second life to these metal outlet covers.Lay the plates out on a clean surface. Depending on what you found underneath (in our case, slightly scratched but heavy metal plates) you may decide to re-paint the plates.

I chose a white gloss spray paint with paint and primer in one.

Step 6

 Open GalleryClean up the outlet switches with a light coat of spray paint.Apply light coats, allowing the surface to dry completely between coats.

Step 7

 Open GalleryReinstall the finished outlet covers (use a touch of spray paint on the head of each screw to make them match).Voila! Perfectly acceptable, like-new outlet covers. If your screws were discolored like mine were, spray a little paint onto a plastic plate and use a paint brush to lightly paint them (this way you can achieve a spray-painted effect without spraying your own hand).


  • Stripping gel
  • Spray paint and primer in one


  • Screwdriver
  • Plastic razor blades
  • Utility knife (optional)
  • Disposal rags
About Emily Fazio 


I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

More About Emily Fazio

4 Responses

  1. Hey! This post could not be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this post to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Can you use this on plastic outlet covers also?

  3. Laurie_March says:

    Such a clean new look!

  4. evelyn Poole says:

    Love the bed pillow, would like to have the instructions thanks, E

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